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In wake of latest shootings, college has plan for security on campuses

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To the PCC community:

In the wake of yet another tragic multiple homicide on a college campus – this time in Illinois – I wanted to express my sorrow over the senseless deaths and my sympathy for the survivors. These tragedies remind us of all that is important in our lives, our work and our community.

I also want to take this opportunity to tell you about the actions we have taken at Portland Community College to increase the safety of our students, staff and faculty. Since last spring’s shootings at Virginia Tech:

  • We have surveyed doors throughout the campuses to see which ones do not lock. About 500 such doors have been identified and locks are being installed.
  • We have designed and installed an interim alert system to warn of situations in which taking shelter and locking down a room are appropriate responses. Staff and faculty who have access to the PCC intranet can hear the alert by going to Students and the community at large can hear the alert by going to The interim alarms have been tested on several campuses and more tests are scheduled. Meanwhile, we have selected vendors to install a permanent alarm system, and the first installation is under way at the Rock Creek Campus.
  • We have equipped designated staff members with keys to lock doors that have so-called “panic bars” – horizontal, metal locking devices.
  • Remotely operated door locks have been installed at the Central Portland Workforce Training Center.
  • All fire alarms have been re-tested, and the tests showed that all fire alarms are working.
  • The Portland Police Bureau and Washington County Sheriff’s Office have conducted walk-throughs of our facilities, to better understand the campus layout, should they be called upon.
  • We have developed a crisis management and communications plan, and have published it in hard-copy format for all management and confidential employees. We also are reproducing it as an electronic document and will include our emergency-operations and business-continuity plans as well.
  • The Cabinet has received training in the Incident Command System, which is a federally recognized set of procedures that can be implemented across multiple agencies for anything from a weather closure to an earthquake. Key members of staff are also undergoing FEMA-based training in crisis management.
  • The College is participating in the FlashAlert system, which can warn students and employees of anything from snow closures to a disaster. Signing up for FlashAlert is simple: Go to and follow these steps:

    1. Click “subscribe”
    2. Write your e-mail address where indicated
    3. At “Add Organization,” Pick Portland/Vancouver/Salem
    4. Select Public Colleges and Universities, then PCC
    5. Check mark the box for “Emergency Alerts”

If you want to add a cell phone number, follow those directions (they differ for different carriers, such as Verizon or Cingular/AT&T). Cell phone numbers should be written down as 10 digits with no dashes. Once you are signed up, you can receive notification of any closure on your home computer and your cell phone. It’s easy.

We understand that some people have experienced time delays with FlashAlert messages. These delays arise from interactions with the Internet service providers that are beyond our control. We will continue to explore additional ways of getting emergency messages to as many people as possible in a timely manner.

In addition, the bond measure program under consideration by the PCC Board of Directors includes funds for security updates, such as electronic key card systems to unlock doors and to better manage access to PCC facilities.

Please know that we take the safety of our students and employees very seriously. We will continue to identify ways to balance necessary security measures at our campuses and centers, with the need to maintain open, accessible learning environments that are critical to our mission.

Thank you.

Preston Pulliams

PCC District President

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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